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EBP: Demonstrating Your Worth

By Jennifer Richey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, TWU SLISDr. Jennifer Richey

In this age of data, accountability, and budget cuts, school librarians must prove their worth. To simply state school librarians contribute to student learning is insufficient: school librarians must reveal their library programís value (and thus their position as a certified school librarian) by providing data linking the school library program to student learning. Evidence-based practice (EBP)* offers a systematic process on which to build, implement, assess, and revise a school library program based on existing evidence and, as a result, proving a library programís contributions to student learning, as well as its overall value to the school, the district, and the greater community.†

A colleague and I recently studied 111 school librariansí application of EBP and the extent to which they share EBP data and with whom. The participants, all public school librarians in the state of Texas, completed an online survey answering both closed- and open-ended questions. The majority of respondents indicated they did indeed participate in some part of the EBP process. The most common components in which they engaged were (1) reading professional journals and applying knowledge gained; (2) referencing national guidelines and state standards when developing library programs; (3) collecting informal data, such as observations and circulation statistics; and (4) writing mission statements. Respondentsí most infrequent behaviors included consulting scholarly research, collecting data linking the school library program to student learning outcomes, and developing long-range plans, three of the most important components involved in the EBP process to link the library program to student learning outcomes. Respondents were most likely to share goals and data with administrators and teachers with the intent of gaining, increasing, or securing something, such as support or funding, of providing information, and for planning purposes.

This study did not review the entire EBP process in the context of practicing school librarians but rather on specific components of the process, as stated above. A more detailed article can be found in the most recent issue of School Library Research, volume 17.† Although this study focused solely on school libraries, EBP is applicable to all library types.

*For more information about EBP, please see the accompanying Voicethread link:

page last updated 5/24/2017 3:21 PM